A BISHOP with Word Apostolic Church in Mahatshula North, Bulawayo has been accused of wrecking church members’ marriages by ordering married congregants to divorce their partners who would have stopped coming to church.
It is alleged Bishop Philip Chipato, who also doubles up as a prophet, encouraged married male congregants to divorce their wives who no longer attend church services.
A pastor who requested anonymity said Chipato ran a series of sermons and lessons castigating married female congregants who had somehow stopped coming to church.
It is further said as a result Bishop Chipato reportedly ordered one of his pastors, Cleopas Midzi, to divorce his wife Vimbai Denhere who had stopped attending church services.
“Vimbai stopped coming to church and after about two weeks Bishop Chipato started to teach a series of lessons demonising married partners who would have stopped coming to church. He also ran a series of sermons preaching against such truant members while encouraging their partners to divorce them,” said a source.
An elder of the church who requested anonymity said as a result Midzi divorced his wife.
“(Cleopas) Midzi had to divorce his wife Vimbai and is cohabiting with Felistas Manase. As a result the issue caused a lot of uproar in the church. Some members had to pull out of the church and so far up to 100 members have deserted the church over time as they felt the issue had a potential of wrecking their marriages or creating rifts in their marriages,” said the source.
Contacted for a comment Vimbai said: “I stopped going to that church (Word Apostolic Church) because I did not like the things that were done at that church. His teachings were not in conformity with the word of God. After a month Chipato influenced my husband (Midzi) to divorce me and left me with two children and he is not taking care of them.”
An elder who only identified himself as Moyo said Bishop Chipato would prophesy matching an elder whose wife would not be coming to church with one of the female congregants.
“He would say to a married elder whose wife is no longer attending church services that he (Chipato) saw a partner in the spirit and the elder has to divorce his wife and marry that partner,” said Moyo.
After spirited efforts to get a comment from Bishop Chipato, he only said: “There is nothing like that.”